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On average, almost 100 people die each day in the United States from gun violence, according to a report done by Jama Network. As one of the richest nations on the planet is losing the battle against this pandemic, it’s worth noting that this fight is a matter the entire world is grappling with.
Guns are the means, but the violence perpetrated from the use of these agencies is committed by people from all backgrounds and all walks of life. This poses the question of whether gun violence is a specific problem of one component of society, the Muslim one for example, or is it a burden that everyone must tackle?
So, is gun violence a “Muslim issue?”
The simple answer is: yes.
But, like every topic Muslims deal with, the answer is never easy or straightforward and this one is no different. This one-word answer lingers with complications.
You’re at home, you switch on the news while you’re in the kitchen making a snack. Suddenly, you hear Wolf Blitzer’s voice blaring “CNN Breaking News.” A shooting, somewhere, many dead, more injured and the suspect is still on the run.
A non-Muslim’s reaction is, oh God, another shooting.
A Muslim’s reaction is, oh God, hope he’s not Muslim.
It’s the worst-case scenario for so many of us, because what we observe at home, learn in Masjid and experience on a daily basis will be twisted and shown dishonestly.
The Quran does not reference gun violence specifically, because guns did not exist at the time of the revelations. Quran with the Hadith together transcended the means to direct its teaching toward the action itself. Both the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet categorically and unequivocally reject any act of transgression.
“And fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Truly God loves not the transgressors.” (2:190) al-Bagarah
“There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” A ruling by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) narrated ‘Ubadah bin Samit
Allah and his Messenger make it clear, with no dubiety, harm in any shape or form is unacceptable.
But what about all those verses of killing non-Muslims?
The Quran’s description of violent actions are put in place as directions of protection, a manner of self-defense, which is the only justification for resorting to them, and even then, it’s better to dock at the port of peace.
“God does not forbid you, with regard to those who did not fight you on account of religion and did not expel you from your homes, from treating them righteously and being just toward them. Truly God loves the just” (60:8) al-Mumtaḥanah
There is not a single verse in the Quran that calls for an unmitigated or unqualified cause of violence. Yet, extremist groups interpret verses to endorse their incoherent and unislamic violent actions.
That is a fact, and while the perpetuated stereotypes of Muslims being synonyms to hate and destruction of human life are unjust, it is what makes violence committed using guns a Muslim issue. Simply, firearms are one of their weapons of choice.
The Parkland shooting intensified the urgency around gun control and need for measures to be taken and implemented now. But, there were no Muslim casualties nor was the attacker Muslim. That was the case in many other shooting incidents and other sites of crimes where guns were used to slaughter innocent people.
Hence, it is easy to sit in the background and watch another community suffer from these events, yet we as Muslims are compelled to be the first to be on the front lines, not because it can happen to us in the future, and it did (Christchurch, New Zealand), nor because we were the victim of the same monstrosity before. It is because we are supposed to be categorically and unequivocally against violence.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The most hated persons to Allah are three: (1) A person who deviates from the right conduct, i.e., an evil doer, in the Haram (sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina); (2) a person who seeks that the traditions of the Pre-Islamic Period of Ignorance, should remain in Islam (3) and a person who seeks to shed somebody’s blood without any right.” Narrated Ibn `Abbas
It should not be lost upon us as well, the word “violence” does not even appear in the Quran. Not once.
Whether we are the victims, or collectively wrongfully accused or it is another community that might even be the one collectively wrongfully accusing us, our cornerstones of belief demand us to be the vigilant sounds of gun control.
So, when the next “Breaking News” comes along, we are profoundly moved to action, unapologetically and filled with conviction in support of our own people and of our fellow citizens.